Jim Sullivan (PUBLIC DOMAIN)

Jim Sullivan

This article was written by Rich Bogovich

Jim Sullivan (PUBLIC DOMAIN)“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” This remark has been credited (dubiously) to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, a contemporary of Boston pitcher Jim Sullivan. This saying could apply to Sullivan starting in the mid-1890s, when he experienced deep sorrow repeatedly. At least relatives who survived him could look back on a few of his 26 wins for the Beaneaters as sunbursts in a span of sadness.

Daniel James Sullivan was born to Irish immigrants in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on April 25, 1867.1 His parents, Timothy and Margaret (Desmond) Sullivan, had seven children, based on censuses. Margaret outlived four of her children.

Timothy Sullivan’s occupation in the 1870 census was mariner, and classified ads from 1886 to 1889 indicate he recruited for the US Navy.2 He also had a liquor operation, based on city directories. On at least two occasions, police raided it, in 1876 and 1889.3

Among the few available details of Jim Sullivan’s youth is his participation in legendary fights with snowballs (and maybe stones) starting in the winter of 1875-76, when he was 8½ years old. “Twenty-five years ago and for several succeeding years, when the winters were long and cold, the Mystic river, between Charlestown and Chelsea, was a famous battle-ground where the boys from Chelsea and Charlestown fought decisive conflicts,” recalled the Boston Globe in a lengthy article.4 Perhaps that combat contributed to his pitching skill. In the 1880 census he was a student, as were his four oldest siblings, ages 8 to 15. In 1885, at the age of 18, he was presumably the “D.J. Sullivan” who helped direct a concert and dance celebrating the 10th anniversary of the St. Mary’s Young Men’s Catholic Temperance Society.5

One profile of Sullivan in 1895 said his pitching career began in 1887 in the city’s Temperance League, but two years later that same paper gave the year as 1888 and specified that his team represented the aforementioned St. Mary’s organization.6 In actuality, in May of 1888 the Boston Globe had announced the formation of such a team, and named D.J. Sullivan as its pitcher. The Globe’s coverage of a St. Mary’s game in mid-June mentioned a Sullivan as their pitcher, and J. Sullivan was likewise in a box score in late July.7 In April of 1889 the Globe reported that pitcher “Sullivan of St. Mary’s of Charlestown, ’88, joined the St. Stephen’s Temperance Association team of Boston.”8

In mid-1889 a tour by the St. Stephen’s team took them 400 miles northeast into Canada, during which they played eight games. On July 11, 22-year-old Jim Sullivan pitched in St. John, New Brunswick, against a local team called the Shamrocks. He struck out 20 or 21 batters and had three fielding assists in an 11-4 victory.9

He soon joined that team, and continued to impress. “Sullivan, formerly of the St. Stephens in the Temperance league, is pitching great ball for the Shamrocks of St. John, N.B.,” the Boston Herald reported in early September. “Last week he pitched against the heavy hitting Socials of Halifax, and his side won by a score of 19 to 2, Sullivan striking out 18 men.” The opposing pitcher was “Flynn, formerly of the Chicagos,” presumably Massachusetts native Jocko Flynn, in which case the Shamrocks crushed a former National Leaguer who had had a 23-6 record for the White Stockings just three years earlier.10

A city directory for 1889 listed Daniel J. Sullivan as living with his parents in Charlestown, at 100 Water Street. The family had lived there since at least 1874. His occupation in 1889 was upholsterer, but the New Brunswick League went professional in 1890 and the Shamrocks rejoined it, with Sullivan in tow.11 Because the league’s four teams aggressively imported talent, at least five of his teammates were also future major leaguers. One of them, fellow pitcher and future Beaneater Frank Sexton, reportedly received $150 a month. The Shamrocks officially won the pennant but only after their unruly fans essentially drove a rival team out of the league.12

Before the 1891 season, Sullivan got a tryout with Frank Selee’s Beaneaters, probably thanks to Fred Lake, a catcher with the New Brunswick League’s Moncton team in 1890. Lake was scheduled to attend spring training with the Boston Reds of the American Association but on March 9 Selee signed Lake away from them.13 Sullivan was practicing with the Beaneaters in Boston by the end of March but wasn’t signed until April 3, the day after a home exhibition game against Brooklyn, the reigning NL champion.14 He pitched the middle three innings before 6,155 fans. Sullivan walked his first opponent, Mike Griffin, but quickly escaped a potential jam. “He got in the way of a hotshot from Smith’s bat, which was dangerous to face. He succeeded in deflecting it to Joe] Quinn and a corking double play resulted,” reported J.C. Edgerly of the Globe. Sullivan yielded two runs in his third inning but still received acclaim. “Young Sullivan made an excellent showing,” wrote Edgerly. “He was cool and had good command of the ball.” The Boston Journal elaborated: “Sullivan might have been excused, on the score of nervousness, if he had been a little wild and unsteady, but he carried himself like a veteran, showed excellent command of the ball, with some puzzling curves, watched the bases sharply, and was an unexpected success in batting, while he did some running and sliding which, if he keeps it up, will make him a valuable man to have on the bases.” As a batter, box scores showed him with two singles and a stolen base. “Sullivan surprised everybody by the excellent exhibition he gave,” concluded the Boston Herald.15

Sullivan’s major-league debut occurred at home against the Phillies on April 28, three days after his 24th birthday. Regrettably for him, the poise he had displayed against Brooklyn was absent. After eight innings Boston led 11-2, so Sullivan entered for the final frame. He first faced Al Myers, who singled. Sullivan walked the next two batters. A fly out scored a run, and then he walked the opposing pitcher. The next batter singled, and the main difference among newspaper accounts was whether the seventh and last batter Sullivan faced, Billy Shindle, also reached by a base hit or by Sullivan’s muff covering first base. Very quickly the score was 11-6, and Kid Nichols relieved to retire the side for Sullivan. “It was his first baptism in a league game, and the strain was a little too much, although it was very plain that the umpire [Tim Hurst] was a little hard on him,” commented the Boston Post. “He had speed and good curves but he could not gauge the plate.”16

Sullivan didn’t pitch again for Boston in 1891. Three days later he and Lake played for the Morrills, sponsored by former Beaneaters player and manager John Morrill’s sporting-goods business, but it was unclear whether they had been loaned or released. “Kirmes and [Edward] Sullivan of the Morrills have signed with Salem. Sullivan and Lake, the ‘pony battery’ of the Boston leaguers, will join the Morrills at Burlington and play in their place,” the Globe announced, referring to the location of the University of Vermont. The next day that paper printed a box score of the Morrills’ 10-9 loss to the Vermont collegians in which Sullivan pitched and Lake also played.17

As of March 2019, Sullivan’s baseball-reference.com entry showed him with Rochester of the Eastern Association in May of 1891, but that was actually former American Association pitcher Tom Sullivan;18 by May 8 Jim had agreed to join the Clyde team in the Rhode Island State League (RISL). The Clydes reportedly had signed him in the winter only to have the Beaneaters intervene.19 With the Clydes he was reunited with former Shamrocks teammate Joe Sullivan, who was said to be his cousin.20 However, before Jim settled in with the Clydes, on May 14 the Sullivans and at least two Clyde teammates played for another Boston team, the Lovells, in Woonsocket, against that city’s RISL team.21 Another of his Clyde teammates was Dan Penno, who had been a member of the Boston Resolutes of the National Colored League in 1887 and also played with the Cuban Giants.22

RISL games were played on Saturdays but on Sunday, July 19, Sullivan was one of seven Clyde players in an exhibition game against the Providence Grays of the Eastern Association. Though the Grays won, 7-3, Sullivan struck out 10 of them. He clearly made an impression: “The Providence management are after Jim Sullivan, the Clyde Club’s crack pitcher, and he should be signed,” reported Sporting Life. “He was with the Boston Leaguers the first of the season, has good speed, fine command and a cool head. He is worth several M.J. and William Sullivans.” That remark disparaged two Providence pitchers (“M.J.” being Mike Sullivan) but became moot when Providence soon disbanded.23 Sullivan remained with the Clydes, and they won the RISL championship with a record of 15-3.24

More significantly, on September 1 Sullivan returned to the majors, back in Boston. The Columbus Solons of the American Association faced the first-place Reds, and the visitors gave Sullivan a trial by fire.25 He pitched a complete game but the Reds won, 9-5. As of this writing baseball-reference.com credits Boston with only four earned runs. The Boston Journal wrote that Sullivan “did as well as could be expected in an opening game and facing heavy batters. His chief weakness is his wildness, for he fields his position well in the main.” The Boston Post commented that Sullivan “gave a creditable exhibition.” The paper quickly added that Columbus catcher Tom “Dowse gave him poor support.”26

After the RISL season concluded, Sullivan and his catcher, Linville McKie, let it be known they were a battery for hire. For example, on September 12 they helped the Marions of Brookline shut out the Beacons of Hingham, and Sullivan struck out 15 batters.27 One newspaper said the duo was promised “a trial by the veteran manager, Harry Wright of the Philadelphia National league club, in the spring.”28

Sullivan instead opened the 1892 season with Indianapolis of the Western League. He started 22 games and had a good earned-run average of 2.64 but his record was 6-18. Things were bad for the club early. At the beginning of May, manager Billy Harrington complained publicly about his roster, for which he blamed some committee’s drawing. In particular, he blasted former major leaguer Moxie Hengel. “He would not get sober,” Harrington asserted. “At St. Paul he coaxed out young Sullivan, our best pitcher, and got him full as a Thanksgiving turkey.” In hindsight, it was foreshadowing when Harrington added, “Sullivan is a crack pitcher when he is well, but he is sick now.”29

He recovered quickly enough, because after the league disbanded in mid-July, one Boston paper wrote that “Jim Sullivan was the mainstay of the Indianapolis team all the season. Sometimes he was called on to go in the box two games in succession and he cheerfully did so, and pitched winning ball nearly all the time.” He may never have received the $108 owed to him when the league folded.30

Providence of the Eastern League soon signed him, and his debut on August 4 against Binghamton was described in the Boston Herald as “one of the sharpest and most exciting struggles of the season. Jim Sullivan pitched in magnificent style, and his work won the game.” He yielded two hits to Binghamton’s leadoff hitter, rookie Willie Keeler, but gave up only four more while striking out seven. Sullivan overcame five errors by his new teammates to prevail, 4-3.31 Over his eight weeks with Providence his workload at least matched his stint with Indianapolis, and his ERA sparkled at 1.14, but he ended up with another losing record, at 8-12.

Before winter the NL’s Washington Senators announced signing both Jim and Joe Sullivan for the 1893 season. However, Providence continued to hold Jim in reserve as the regular season approached, and Washington declined to pay whatever Providence asked for his release.32 His statistics in 1893-94 are incomplete, but during one game he was “presented with a large and elegant bouquet” by admirers, reported the Herald. “In the middle of the bouquet was a small cabbage in which was secreted a gold ring with a cameo setting.”33

In contrast to Sullivan’s first two seasons with Providence, in 1894 they battled for their league’s pennant, and he was a major contributor. For example, in August he fended off one of their top rivals, the Syracuse Stars, with a 3-1 complete-game victory during which he scattered six hits. Providence did indeed win the pennant, and manager Billy Murray called Sullivan the best pitcher in the Eastern League. As a swift outcome, the Beaneaters reacquired Sullivan for their 1895 squad.34

Sullivan notched his first NL win in his first start, at home on May 3, 1895, against Washington. The Senators gradually piled up 11 runs but Boston amassed a staggering 27 and led 17-6 after five innings. All things considered, sportswriter Tim Murnane said, Sullivan “did good work” and overcame “a hard deal from umpire Tim] Keefe. The Charlestown boy used good judgment and had good control.”35

The 1895 and 1896 seasons proved to be Sullivan’s fullest in the NL and were fairly similar for him. He was securely entrenched in the bottom half of Boston’s pitching rotation, won 11 games each season, and had ERAs not much higher than the staff as a whole.36 He hit his only NL home run on August 17, 1896, over the left-field fence of the South End Grounds in a 5-4 win over Brooklyn. The best start of his career came exactly one month later, on the road against the formidable Baltimore Orioles. Sullivan held the pennant winners hitless until there were two outs in the seventh inning, when Steve Brodie beat out a bunt toward third base. Sullivan triumphed with a two-hit, 2-0 shutout.37

Outside of baseball, Sullivan experienced alternating emotional extremes from 1895 through 1899. Each year brought both great sorrow and great joy. In mid-1895 his older brother Charles died at about 30. At the beginning of 1896, Jim married Mary McMahon, of Charlestown. In October his father died, but about two months later Jim and Mary celebrated the birth of a daughter, Helen. In November of 1897 his frequent teammate Joe Sullivan died at the age of 27, and in March of 1898 baby Helen died at 15 months old. In early 1899 Jim and Mary welcomed son Francis into the world, but in the middle of that year his sister Agnes died at the age of 19.38

In the midst of this five-year span fell the bittersweet baseball season of Jim Sullivan’s career: He experienced the amazing 1897 pennant race, but circumstances minimized his participation. Still, he did contribute to the championship early and late during the season. On May 7 he won, 4-0, at home against Washington, his second and last NL shutout. On August 12, as the pennant race with Baltimore, Cincinnati, and New York intensified, Sullivan started on the road against New York. The game was tied 1-1 after nine innings, and each team scored three more in the 10th. Boston scored in the 12th inning, and Sullivan had an impressive complete-game win.39 In between those milestones, he pitched sparingly. A column in The Sporting News alluded to a reason, asserting that if Sullivan “had the endurance of a strong man there would not be a better pitcher in the whole land.” Sportswriter Jacob Morse later provided context: “Jim Sullivan has not been in the best of trim this year,” he wrote. “He caught cold while down South [during spring training], and that knocked him out, so that since then he has not been in form to pitch with the best results.” Sullivan, though, insisted that he was in good shape.40 He proved it in that 12-inning marathon, but hadn’t previously “been in condition to pitch a half a dozen games this season,” sportswriter Walter Barnes commented afterward. “A full game seemed to be testing the endurance of the invalided Sullivan,” he concluded.41 That season, at least, the 5-foot-10 pitcher weighed a mere 155 pounds.42

Sullivan pitched a few more times during the season’s final two months, including in relief on September 22, the game before Boston’s dramatic three-game series in Baltimore. Selee didn’t take Sullivan to Baltimore. Also left behind were catcher Charlie Ganzel, whose wife had just given birth, and Charlie Hickman, who pitched only twice in regular-season games.43 Nevertheless, Sullivan contributed advice that presumably resonated, because Jacob Morse brought it up two years later: “In 1897 when the championship was fought to the last ditch pitcher Jim Sullivan, of the Bostons, wired ‘Kid’ Nichols, of the Bostons, to Baltimore: ‘Use both sides of your head.’”44 Nichols won the first game and muddled through the third successfully, and soon enough Boston had the pennant. From a statistical standpoint, Sullivan was worthy of being called a champion. Despite being seeing far less action than during the previous two seasons, he had his only sub-4.00 ERA, while his 1.315 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) was bettered only by Nichols on the staff.

A few days before that decisive series in Baltimore, Sullivan had announced that he would spend the offseason in Asheville, North Carolina. In October it was rumored he was facing consumption, the disease which claimed Joe Sullivan. Jim admitted such fear was his reason for wintering in North Carolina.45 His plan worked, at least in early 1898. “The players were delighted to find such a complete change in Jim Sullivan” when the Beaneaters reassembled for spring training in March, reported Tim Murnane.46

Sullivan pitched three times over the regular season’s first three weeks, the third being a start at home on May 6 against New York. He lasted only two innings, and it proved to be his major-league finale. Within the week he was released due to ill health.47

By late July Sullivan was pitching weekly for a club in Laconia, New Hampshire, as it was forming a state league with teams in nearby cities.48 On August 27 he was signed anew by Providence manager Billy Murray. First up was a start against Ottawa two days later, which was tied 1-1 after nine before Sullivan’s team won it in the 12th. A Sporting Life columnist noted that “his sickness of last winter still shows its effects on him. This game was a hard test, but Sullivan, with the exception of one inning, kept the hits well scattered, struck out five men and did not give a base on balls.”49 Sullivan pitched well in three more Eastern League games.

He was in good spirits after the season and remained on good terms with the Beaneaters, as he demonstrated in a gathering held on November 1: “An event unique in the annals of base ball was the banquet tendered the owners of the Boston club … and the base ball writers, by the players of the club, at the United States Hotel,” wrote the Herald. “There was fun without limit, the humorists being out in force, and Jimmy Sullivan, formerly of the Bostons, was a side-show in himself.”50

In early 1899 Frank Selee was asked to provide a Beaneater to coach the University of Maine’s players for the coming season, and he recommended Sullivan. Hugh Duffy coached Boston College’s team and obtained some help from Sullivan. That set up a friendly rivalry in May, when Jacob Morse reported that Sullivan’s Maine team beat Duffy’s, 7-6.51

That same month Sullivan signed with Manchester of the New England League, and he debuted with them at home on May 26 but pitched only the first inning. He was one of three relievers on June 1, but then was idle until June 24. With Fred Lake as his catcher, he shut out Pawtucket, 12-0, scattering six hits.52 By all accounts, that was Sullivan’s final game as a professional ballplayer.

In July Sullivan was back in Boston working at Tommy McCarthy’s bar on Washington Street, and late in the year he was on the staff of local politician John R. Murphy.53 In early 1900, when New Englanders and the sporting world were horrified to learn that Marty Bergen murdered his family and committed suicide, Jim Sullivan revealed that Bergen had threatened to kill him and Hugh Duffy about two years earlier. “And when I think of it now it looks as though Martin meant what he said,” Sullivan concluded.54

In May of 1900, Sullivan was suddenly a source of baseball commentary. On one occasion he faulted most of Boston’s current roster. “Capt Duffy is the only aggressive player in the bunch,” he asserted. Later he expressed doubt about pitchers intentionally beaning batters: “I have often tried to burn one of those boys with a speedy one when they were trying to get their base without hitting, but found it impossible, and yet I have hit players when trying to keep the ball away,” he told Tim Murnane.55

At the end of that month he was mentioned in local papers again for the somber reason. “The friends of Jim Sullivan, the ex-Boston pitcher, who is in a bad way on account of a serious sickness, are passing around the hat,” wrote the Boston Post, which then told readers where financial contributions could be made. A month later, Worcester players contributed $39, and a month after that Providence sent a check for $90. By the end of August, Brooklyn players added $100, and the Beaneaters added $170 from exhibition games in Syracuse and Lynn. In October, The Sporting News reported that Sullivan had received $610 from various sources.56

In mid-1901, Sullivan went to Europe to rest for a few weeks, and afterward it was said he looked well when he was spotted at Boston’s American League ballpark.57 However, Daniel James Sullivan died at home on November 29, 1901, at the age of 34. Among the pallbearers at his funeral were former Boston teammates Duffy, McCarthy, Cozy Dolan, and Herman Long. One Boston paper said Sullivan “was light in build, but very nervy, had great curves and almost perfect control of the ball, and was generally looked upon as one of the ‘headiest’ and most scientific pitchers in the country.” The Sporting News identified the cause as “consumption, which left him so weak that he could not pitch for the last couple of years.” The newspaper concluded its brief tribute by saying he was a very fine fellow.”58



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com.



1 There is broad agreement among sources that his birthday was April 25, including his findagrave.com entry, but a few put the year as 1869. The 1900 census, for one, confirmed that he was born in April of 1867, not 1869, and he was listed as three years old in the 1870 census. During the early years of his baseball career, there were multiple pitchers named Sullivan in New England and first names often weren’t used on newspapers’ sports pages, so mentioning his Charlestown residency was one way to distinguish him. Charlestown was a separate municipality when he was born but was annexed by Boston in 1874.

2 Many of his naval recruitment ads gave only the family’s address, but “T. Sullivan” was the contact specified in classifieds in the Boston Globe on April 23 and May 31, 1889. His longtime connection to the sea was also illustrated by his ad under “Yachts, Boats, Etc.” Boston Globe, May 7, 1889: 7. He announced the sale of “the best whaleboat in Boston.”

3 “Municipal Courts – Oct. 21,” Boston Post, October 23, 1876: 4. “Liquor Raids,” Boston Globe, November 18, 1889: 3.

4 “Fierce Contests,” Boston Globe, January 29, 1901: 10.

5 “Concert and Dancing,” Boston Globe, October 8, 1885: 2. His future best man, William T. Graham, was president of the Temperance Society at the time of this concert and dance. See “Pitcher Sullivan Married,” Boston Globe, January 16, 1896: 5.

6 “Players of the Boston League Team, 1895,” Boston Post, March 31, 1895: 13. “Now for the Temple Cup,” Boston Post, October 3, 1897: 2.

7 “Medals for Charlestown Tossers,” Boston Globe, May 14, 1888: 3. “Temperate Young Men,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1888: 2. “St. Stephens, 8; St. Marys, 4,” Boston Globe, July 29, 1888: 4.

8 “St. Stephen’s Organize,” Boston Globe, April 29, 1889: 4.

9 Sullivan’s strikeout total was reported as 21 in “Base Ball Notes,” Bangor (Maine) Daily Whig & Courier, July 13, 1889: 3. His total was instead reported as 20 in “Base Ball Gossip,” Boston Globe, July 12, 1889: 3. The total was likewise stated as 20, with the additional detail about fielding assists, in “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, July 14, 1889: 6.

10 “Around the Bases,” Boston Herald, September 5, 1889: 5. Four teams belonged to the New Brunswick League during its three years of existence, from 1888 through 1890, but at least toward the end of 1889 it was only a three-team circuit and the Shamrocks weren’t members, according to “Base Ball Notes,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, September 10, 1889: 3. Instead, after the St John A.A. club won the league’s 1889 pennant they played the Shamrocks in a provincial championship series. Several overviews of Sullivan’s minor-league days said the Shamrocks won the series but that wasn’t true, according to “Local Matters,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, October 5, 1889: 3.

11 Baseball-reference.com lists the 1890 New Brunswick League among minor circuits “which decided not to sign the National Agreement,” at baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Non-Signatory_19th_Century_Leagues. Assessing Jim Sullivan’s performance that year is complicated by the fact that the Shamrocks recruited another pitcher with that surname, as reported in “Base Ball. M.S.C., 23; Bowdoin, 17,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, May 12, 1890: 3. He was “Joseph Sullivan, of South Boston. Sullivan has pitched in several Quincy, Mass., clubs and has a record of 19 winning games out of 23 pitched by him last year.” However, on August 22, for one, it was explicitly Jim Sullivan who hurled a complete-game loss for the Shamrocks in Halifax against the Socials of that city. See “Base Ball Games,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, August 25, 1890: 3.

12 Colin D. Howell, Northern Sandlots: A Social History of Maritime Baseball (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 65-70. See also Brian Flood, Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985 (Saint John, New Brunswick: Neptune Publishing Company, 1985), 79. Joe Sullivan was one of Jim’s teammates who later played in the National League; both of these books incorrectly said the two were brothers. In addition to Sexton, other 1890 Shamrocks who later played in the majors were Abel Lizotte (often “Lezotte”), Bill Merritt, and John O’Brien.

13 “Boston Baseball Players,” Boston Post, March 10, 1891: 8.

14 Sullivan was mentioned among Boston pitchers in “Preparing for Fast Day,” Boston Globe, March 29, 1891: 7. See also “They’ll Play Great Ball,” Boston Herald, April 1, 1891: 7.

15 J.C. Edgerly, “Boston on Top,” Boston Globe, April 3, 1891: 1. “Striker Up,” Boston Journal Supplement, April 3, 1891: 1. “Boston, and Easily,” Boston Herald, April 3, 1891: 1. (On page 7 the latter paper contradicted itself, and the other two dailies, by saying Kid Nichols gave up Brooklyn’s only two runs rather than Sullivan.) There wasn’t any Smith in the box scores; it’s possible Edgerly was thinking of Brooklyn’s former shortstop, Germany Smith. The Journal’s account suggests the double-play ball was hit by either Adonis Terry or Oyster Burns. Sullivan’s immediate signing was reported in “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, April 4, 1891: 3.

16 “Played Like Novices,” Boston Post, April 29, 1891: 2. See also “Six Straight Games,” Boston Advertiser, April 29, 1891: 8, “The Ball Field,” Boston Journal Supplement, April 29, 1891: 1, and T.H. Murnane, “Still Another,” Boston Globe, April 29, 1891: 9. As of this writing, Sullivan’s baseball-reference.com entry, baseball-reference.com/players/s/sulliji01.shtml, shows his debut incorrectly, as April 22 instead of April 28; it also specifies that he faced eight batters whereas newspaper accounts documented seven.

17 “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, May 1, 1891: 3. Baseball-reference.com lists an Edward F. Sullivan on the roster of Salem in the New England League in 1891. See also “University of Vermont, 10; Morrills, 9,” Boston Globe, May 2, 1891: 12.

18 “Nine to Three This Time,” Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, May 13, 1891: 10. See also “Sporting Brevities,” Buffalo Times, May 5, 1891: 1. In fact, another Buffalo paper explicitly rebutted earlier reports that Rochester signed Jim rather than Tom – see “Baseball Notes,” Buffalo Express, May 9 1891: 6.

19 “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner (Phenix, Rhode Island), May 8, 1891: 1.

20 “Personal,” Sporting Life, May 25, 1895: 4. “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, October 30, 1897: 2. Conversely, Jim, Joe, and Mike Sullivan were also deemed to be unrelated in that same weekly: See J.C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, November 13, 1897: 10.

21 “Woonsocket, 17; Lovells, 0,” Boston Globe, May 15, 1891: 5. Early that season, at least, the Lovells had another pitcher named Sullivan, who pitched for that team on the same early April day when Jim Sullivan hurled three innings against Brooklyn.

22 “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, July 3, 1891: 8. See also Robert Cvornyek, “The Color of Baseball: Race and Boston’s Sporting Community” in Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal, volume 6 (2014): 73.

23 “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, July 24, 1891: 5. “Clyde’s Pitcher Wanted by Cheney,” Rhode Island Pendulum (East Greenwich), August 7, 1891: 5. What Cheer, “Poor Providence,” Sporting Life, August 8, 1891: 5. “Miscellaneous,” Boston Journal, August 14, 1891: 4.

24 Sullivan also had a successful year as a batter, according to team statistics published after the season, showing him with a batting average of .303. See “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, September 25, 1891: 1.

25 Sporting Life may have caused confusion by stating that Columbus “tried pitcher Sullivan, late of Providence, who pitched a couple of games for the Athletics.” That clearly described Mike Sullivan, not Jim. See “Boston vs. Columbus at Boston Sept. 1,” Sporting Life, September 5, 1891: 4. However, multiple sources in New England made it clear that the Columbus pitcher was indeed Jim Sullivan: “Boston, 9; Columbus, 5,” Boston Journal, September 2, 1891: 3. “They Came Near Winning,” Boston Evening Transcript, September 2, 1891: 5. “Still Winning,” Boston Advertiser, September 2, 1891: 2. “Only a Good Finish,” Boston Post, September 2, 1891: 8. “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, September 4, 1891: 5. Thanks go out to SABR member Rick Huhn for searching Columbus newspapers at a library there.

26 “Boston, 9; Columbus, 5,” Boston Journal, September 2, 1891: 3. “Only a Good Finish,” Boston Post, September 2, 1891: 8.

27 “Marions, 6; Beacons, 0,” Boston Globe, September 13, 1891: 2. There was a general announcement about their availability in “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, August 31, 1891: 5. The two were expected to play two games for the Melrose team during September, as reported in “Amateur Base Ball Gossip,” Boston Globe, September 2, 1891: 5. Later in the month there were to serve as the battery for the Amesbury team, according to “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, September 16, 1891: 5.

28 “Pawtuxet Valley Park,” Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, October 9, 1891: 8.

29 “What Harrington Says,” Indianapolis Journal, May 3, 1892: 3.

30 “Base Ball Notes,” Boston Globe, July 18, 1892: 3. Jacob C. Morse, “Boston Briefs,” Sporting Life, August 6, 1892: 9.

31 “The Eastern League,” Boston Herald, August 5, 1892: 5.

32 The dual signing was widely reported throughout November. For example, see “Latest News by Wire,” Sporting Life, November 5, 1892: 1. The inability of Washington and Providence to reach an agreement was also covered extensively. See, for instance, Ned Kay, “Providence Plans,” Sporting Life, April 15, 1893: 16. This even touched off a minor debate about the reserve rule, when the Buffalo Courier quoted and rebutted a Boston Post complaint three days earlier about the rule’s harm to players. The Courier countered that without the rule “the minor leagues would soon go out of existence.” – “Around the Bases,” Buffalo Courier, April 16, 1893: 8.

33 “Grounders,” Boston Sunday Herald, September 17, 1893: 32. Possibly making it difficult to compile Sullivan’s statistics for 1893 was the fact that during the season Providence also had pitchers Dennis Sullivan and William Sullivan on its roster.

34 “Stars Couldn’t Hit Sullivan,” Buffalo Courier, August 6, 1894: 10. J.C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, October 20, 1894: 5.

35 T.H. Murnane, “Show No Mercy,” Boston Globe, May 4, 1895: 9.

36 Specifically, in 1895 he was 11-9 with an ERA of 4.74, while the staff’s was 4.25. In 1896 he slid to 11-12 but lowered his ERA to 4.03, but the staff did likewise, to 3.78.

37 “Bridegrooms,” Boston Journal, August 18, 1896: 8. “Full of Twists,” Boston Globe, September 18, 1896: 5.

38 “Death of Charles F. Sullivan,” Boston Globe, June 10, 1895: 3. “Pitcher Sullivan Married,” Boston Globe, January 16, 1896: 5. “Charlestown,” Boston Globe, October 12, 1896: 3. J.C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, February 20, 1897: 11. “Joseph D. Sullivan,” Boston Journal, November 3, 1897: 2. “Deaths,” Boston Globe, March 16, 1898: 9. “Deaths,” Boston Globe, July 19, 1899: 7. Massachusetts birth records prior to 1916 include a Francis Sullivan born to Daniel J. Sullivan and Mary C. McMahon on January 30, 1899. Not surprisingly, the five funerals were relatively private affairs, except for Joe Sullivan’s. In addition to Jim Sullivan, the baseball fraternity was represented by the likes of Tommy McCarthy, Cozy Dolan, Toby Lyons, and Mike Sullivan, according to “Many Floral Tributes,” Boston Herald, November 6, 1897: 2.

39 Bunker Hill, “Four Straight,” Boston Advertiser, May 8, 1897: 8. “Pennant Ball,” Boston Globe, August 13, 1897: 7.

40 “Is a Deserter,” The Sporting News, May 15, 1897: 5. J.C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, July 24, 1897: 9. On a different page in the latter issue it was reported that Sullivan displayed some atypical hostility about his situation: “Pitcher Jim Sullivan and catcher Ganzell [sic] were sent home from Pittsburg by Manager Selee. Sullivan is indignant over not being given a chance to pitch, claiming to be in good condition, and wants his release. See “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, July 24, 1897: 5.

41 W.S. Barnes Jr., “This Is a Clincher,” Boston Morning Journal, August 13, 1897: 1.

42 George V. Tuohey, A History of the Boston Base Ball Club (Boston: M F. Quinn & Co., 1897), 160.

43 “Off for Baltimore,” Boston Advertiser, September 23, 1897: 5.

44 Jacob C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, September 9, 1899: 8. As a very small consolation for not being taken to Baltimore, Sullivan pitched the final innings in the last game of the underwhelming postseason Temple Cup series. See “Orioles’ Cup,” Boston Globe, October 12, 1897: 3.

45 “Echoes of the Game,” Boston Globe, September 19, 1897: 4. “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, October 9, 1897: 5. “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, October 30, 1897: 2.

46 T.H. Murnane, “Ready to Begin,” Boston Globe, March 21, 1898: 9.

47 “Met the Spurt,” Boston Journal, May 7, 1898: 7. “News and Comment,” Sporting Life, May 14, 1898: 5.

48 “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, July 20, 1898: 2. “Players’ Bench,” Boston Post, July 21, 1898: 3.

49 “Jim Sullivan With Providence,” Boston Globe, August 28, 1898: 2. Rhody, “Providence’s Pet,” Sporting Life, September 10, 1898: 13.

50 “Boston Players’ Banquet,” Boston Sunday Herald, November 6, 1898: 35.

51 “Sporting Notes,” Boston Globe, February 16, 1899: 3. Two years earlier Sullivan had similarly been engaged by Brown University. See “Happy Jack Egan,” The Sporting News, March 13, 1897: 2. “Open Season with Brown,” Boston Globe, March 19, 1899: 16. Jacob C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, May 20, 1899: 3.

52 “Manchester 8, Cambridge 5,” Boston Globe, May 27, 1899: 4. “Manchester 21, Taunton 17,” Boston Globe, June 2, 1899: 4. “New England League,” Boston Journal, June 25, 1899: 2. For Sullivan’s finale, former major leaguer Alex Ferson was credited with “curing” Sullivan’s pitching arm in “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, June 27, 1899: 4.

53 Jacob C. Morse, “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, July 22, 1899: 7. Jacob C. Morse, “Morse’s Missive,” Sporting Life, November 11, 1899: 8.

54 “Awful Shock to Many Friends,” Boston Globe, January 20, 1900: 3.

55 “Baseball Notes, Boston Globe, May 19, 1900: 9. T.H. Murnane, “Baseball Veterans,” Boston Globe, May 27, 1900: 35.

56 “Players’ Bench,” Boston Post, May 30, 1900: 3. “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, June 30, 1900: 3. “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, July 31, 1900: 4. “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, August 26, 1900: 4. “Contributes $170 to Sullivan Fund,” Boston Globe, August 31, 1900: 5. Hi Hi, “Several Changes,” The Sporting News, October 13, 1900: 2.

57 “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, July 21, 1901: 4. “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, August 21, 1901: 4.

58 “Profusion of Flowers,” Boston Globe, December 2, 1901: 5. “Won Fame on the Diamond,” Boston Herald, November 30, 1901: 4. Hi Hi, “Jumps Once More,” The Sporting News, December 7, 1901: 3. His death certificate shows the cause as pulmonary tuberculosis, a disease widely associated with consumption, and that he had been suffering for six months. The Herald and at least one Boston paper said Sullivan was survived by a widow and two children. Massachusetts birth records for daughter Helen and son Francis are accessible online, but confirmation of a third child remains elusive. Jim and Mary lived with her mother in the 1900 census, but Francis was their only child. Therefore, an additional child would have been born later in 1900 or in 1901. In the 1910 census Mary was reported to have borne three children, two still living. Nevertheless, only “Frank,” age 11, was living with her. The solution to the mystery may be the household in 1910 that included Jim’s three surviving siblings. All three were single, and neither sister had ever given birth. Living with them was William Sullivan, age 9, “nephew” of the head of the household, Jim’s sister Mary. If William wasn’t the illegitimate child Jim’s brother Timothy, he was quite likely Jim’s son being raised by close relatives.

Full Name

Daniel James Sullivan


April 25, 1867 at Charlestown, MA (USA)


November 29, 1901 at Roxbury, MA (USA)

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